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Local government principles and practice

This local government course explores the fascinating issues of local democracy, community, funding, service delivery and leadership and their impacts on local governance and intergovernmental relations. Understanding local government principles and practice is key to working effectively in this area. Immerse yourself in the key concepts and theories about local government, its rationale, purpose and key challenges.

About this course

Local Government is a strategic player in the intergovernmental space and has the capacity through its authority, positioning and strategic planning to influence and drive community growth and change. Participants completing this local government course will build a strong foundation in the theory, history and practice of local government. You will read, debate and extend your understanding of fiscal federalism, decentralisation, multi-level governance and metropolitan and regional governance. The course focuses on the promises and difficulties that currently confront local government and through collaborative learning approaches, you will gain a greater understanding of the values, knowledge and skills needed to address these professional challenges.

If you are in search of online courses or distance learning, you might be interested in our Local Government Course Online: Principles and Practice.

Course structure

What do you need to work effectively in the ever-complex local government space? Firstly, you need to understand the fundamental principles and practice at play. This local government course explores the fundamentals, covering ‘the core of the core’ and posits local government as a strategic player in the intergovernmental space.

You will learn to better understand local government’s authority, strategy and capacity to achieve better community outcomes. Course materials range from why councils matter through to intergovernmental relations, engaging and delivering for the community and the future for local government.

This local government course delivers the fundamental principles and practice needed to work effectively in the local government space. It shows how government and local government strategically intertwine, touching on the role of elected representatives and not-for-profits. Learn how democracy, public value, service delivery, reform and leadership are integral to healthy, productive local government outcomes.

This local government course will cover the following content:

Why local government matters

We break the ice by examining empirical research that strongly suggests that people think local government is important across many dimensions: Service delivery and planning; also as part of the democratic fabric of societies, to foster place attachment and for Indigenous local governance. We also examine the place of local government historically, explaining its complex and varied relationship with higher tiers of government.

Understanding government and local government

As well as providing a granular account of local government and Indigenous local governance in Australia and more broadly, we consider the dimensions of local democracy, the provision of goods and services (public; private; shared) and what the shift from ‘government’ to ‘governance’ entails.

Fiscal federalism and decentralisation

We examine the theory and practice of fiscal decentralisation and fiscal federalism, providing a detailed account of Australia’s intergovernmental fiscal relations, local government finances and options for reforming these in comparative international perspective.

Understanding and engaging local communities

We examine how communities are understood and mapped by local governments for planning and well-being. We provide you with approaches and tools for engaging communities for planning and community development.

Public value, reform and leadership

We provide you with frameworks and tools for better management in local government, focusing on public value creation. We also examine key reforms to local government in Australia and internationally, including amalgamations, changes to leadership and options for service delivery.

Local government in the future

Key challenges faced by local government are explored and remedies to address these provided. We examine the global cities in theory and practice, local economic development and the importance of local government in non-metropolitan areas.


Learning outcomes

At the completion of this local government course online you will have an understanding of:

  • Key theories relating to local government and the political and legislative framework.
  • Current issues facing local government as a tier of government in Australia.
  • Applying concepts relating to local government, democracy, service delivery, governance, management and reform to your own practice.
  • Capacity building processes that would meet the needs of councils and their communities.


Course delivery

This local government course will be delivered as an interactive workshop consisting of an instructor-led lecture, group and individual activities. This training approach allows participants to work through concepts introduced by the trainer in an application-focused teaching environment. Participants will challenge their understanding of the concepts and consider their application once back in their individual workplace.

If you are in search of online courses or distance learning, you might be interested in our Local Government Course Online: Principles and Practice.


Course prerequisites

This local government course has no prerequisites and is open to all members of the public.


In-house training

This local government course can also be customised and/or delivered in-house. Find out more


COVID-19 Information

UTS is undertaking a number of social distancing initiatives, as informed by NSW Health advice, to help reduce social interactions in support of the government’s efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. As part of this response, some of our short courses may be postponed to a later date.

Please note however, bookings are open for all courses offered by the Institute for Public Policy and Governance (IPPG). If a course needs to be postponed, participants will have the chance to transfer to a later date, a new course or request a full refund. IPPG will also be offering a range of online or blended learning options facilitated via zoom video conferencing. If you have any questions in the interim, please do not hesitate to contact our team at

Who is this course for?

This local government course is suitable for professionals who want to effectively engage with governance, management and reform in the public sector. This course is also suitable for elected representatives or aspiring representatives at any level of government who need a ‘deep dive’ into local government.

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